Updates for Oracle's RHEL clone now available
Oracle is making updates for Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone Oracle Linux available free of charge from the company's public package repository. Previously, bug fixes and security patches released between minor releases (e.g. 6.1 and 6.2) have only been available to Oracle customers who have taken out support contracts. Those without a support contract could only acquire the ISO images of those OS versions, the RPM packages contained in them and the source code free of charge, but not the bug fixes and security patches needed to maintain a system in good health. Now users will be able to get those security patches and bug fixes but will still have to register to download the ISO images from Oracle in the first place.
Oracle has announced the new procedure as part of a press release revealing that Oracle's Database 11g will be certified for Oracle Linux and RHEL 6. According to a blog post by Oracle's Lenz Grimmer, in addition to Oracle's support, customers with support contracts enjoy additional benefits, such as access to software channels on the Unbreakable Linux Network (ULN) and basic functionality for provisioning, managing and monitoring Oracle Linux systems using Enterprise Manager 12c for Linux or Enterprise Manager OpsCenter. Oracle's Wim Coekaerts describes the procedure for adding the public package repositories in a blog post.
This means that Oracle Linux is now providing free of charge roughly what community projects such as CentOS and Scientific Linux have been offering for the last few years: clones of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and package updates released for it. Oracle is endeavouring to add value to its Linux version through extensions such as the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (also available free of charge), which recently added official support for the btrfs filesystem. Lately Oracle has also tended to be a little quicker off the mark than CentOS and Scientific Linux when it comes to releasing clones of RHEL minor releases. Red Hat provides access to RHEL and updates for it as part of its service subscription model. The cheapest version (desktop, "self-support subscription") costs $50 per year.